US reject SADC call to lift Zimbabwe sanctions

A call from Southern African Development Community (SADC) to have the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe lifted has been rejected by the United States government.

Speaking during the close of the SADC Heads of State summit in Malawi’s Capital Lilongwe  on Sunday, Malawian President Joyce Banda who is the new leader of the regional block, said SADC heads of state are  impressed with various developments happening in Zimbabwe that promises peaceful political environment in that country.

“The summit has noted the progress made in Zimbabwe under global political agreement signed in 2008, and commended the successful referendum on the new constitution in March 2013 as well as the conduct of harmonized elections of 31 July 2013.”

She therefore called upon Western countries to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Mugabe (left) still faces US sanctions. On the left is President Joyce Banda who saved Malawi from the West aid freeze when she took over power from late Bingu wa Mutharika

Mugabe (left) still faces US sanctions. On the left is President Joyce Banda who saved Malawi from the West aid freeze when she took over power from late Bingu wa Mutharika

“SADC calls upon the international community to review their position in sanctions following the progress being made in Zimbabwe. I believe totally that Zimbabweans deserves better and Zimbabweans have suffered enough.”

But U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Voice of America that the U.S. program of what it calls “targeted” sanctions will remain in force as long as “serious flaws” persist in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.

She says the election did “not represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

Psaki says a change in the U.S. sanctions policy would occur “only in a context of credible, transparent, peaceful reforms” that reflect the public’s wishes.

According to Psaki, the United States “always is concerned” by the suffering of the Zimbabwean people. But she says “that is how we make our decisions.”

Washington began imposing sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle in 2001, barring them from U.S. travel and banning transfers of defense items to them.

The European Union imposed a travel ban and other sanctions on Mugabe and senior ruling party figures since 2002 in response to alleged rights abuses committed under his authoritarian rule.

EU governments had welcomed Zimbabwe’s adoption of a new constitution in March this year, lifting sanctions on some Mugabe loyalists and their companies as a reward for what it called a significant step toward democracy.

The United States made a similar gesture in April, suspending sanctions against two Zimbabwean banks.

 

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